Hronis Racing’s Stellar Wind, the Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old filly of 2015 who finished an unlucky fourth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff, proved she’s still got it in Friday’s Grade 1 Apple Blossom. The 5-year-old daughter of Curlin ran down local course specialist Terra Promessa in a hard-fought stretch battle to prevail by just over a length at the wire for trainer John Sadler. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Stellar Wind completed 1 1/16 miles over Oaklawn’s fast main track in 1:42.75 to kick off her 2017 campaign.
Terra Promessa, another daughter of Curlin, broke alertly under jockey Jose Ortiz. Instead of being wrangled back as she was in her last start by Irad Ortiz, Jr., Terra Promessa was allowed to do as she pleased: she shot immediately to the front of the compact field. Durango was along her outside in second, and Stellar Wind, despite breaking sharply, had been eased back by Espinoza and moved over to the inside rail, where she tracked the footsteps of the frontrunner in third. Streamline was traveling well in fourth.
Down the backstretch, Terra Promessa set a measured pace of :23.88 and :48.22, leading Durango by three-quarters of a length. As Terra Promessa began to draw away on the front end, Espinoza shook the reins at Stellar Wind for encouragement. The chestnut mare responded willingly, moving past Durango with ease and angling to the two path to confront Terra Promessa on the front. Meanwhile, the ever-consistent Streamline moved up the rail to gain third.
Turning for home, Terra Promessa still led Stellar Wind by a neck, but both appeared to be reading their maximum level of effort very early in the stretch. As Stellar Wind continued to grind away at the leader, urged on by a couple of right-handed reminders from Espinoza, the two daughters of Curlin drew even. Terra Promessa put up a valiant fight, but Stellar Wind got her neck in front as Espinoza hand-rode her alongside. One more reminder with the stick in his right hand sent Stellar Wind sailing home just over a length the best at the wire. Terra Promessa had to settle for second, and Streamline came home a slid third, beaten just a couple of lengths in the end.
Bred in Virginia by Stonestreet and Keswick Stables, Stellar Wind was a $ 40,000 yearling purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale. Shortly thereafter she commanded $ 86,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic yearling sale from Barbara Houck, for whom she began her career. Stellar Wind won her second start at Laurel Park by 8 3/4 lengths, after which she was sold to the Hronis operation. From there, she has gone on to win a trio of Grade 1 races, and the Apple Blossom marks her fourth top-level victory. Overall, Stellar Wind boasts a record of eight wins from 13 starts, with earnings of over $ 1.8 million.
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